Champagne Pol Roger hosted the 64th annual Varsity Blind Wine-tasting match on Wednesday 15th February 2017 at the Oxford and Cambridge Club. As is customary for this prestigious match, competition was fierce; both teams had trained rigorously in preparation for what is always a closely fought contest.

We were joined by esteemed judges Hugh Johnson OBE and Sarah Knowles MW, both of whom are Oxbridge alumnus. The judges were tasked with marking every paper, critiquing the student’s analysis of the wines based on grape variety, country of origin, viticultural region, vintage and, most important and challenging of all, comments leading to identification.

Cassidy Dart, Director of Wine at Pol Roger Portfolio, had carefully chosen the 12 competition wines to be served ‘blind’; 6 whites followed by 6 reds.  The whites proved an easier selection than the reds. Although a particularly high quality Chardonnay from Kumeu River, Mate’s Vineyard, Auckland, flummoxed a number of students who believed it to be a Burgundian white. Equally, the Condrieu, whilst clearly high quality, did not have the customary opulence and fragrance associated with the appellation. The majority of students were able to identify the Delaporte, Sancerre, Silex, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire which was an archetypal restrained example of its kind.

At the end of the flight of White Wines Oxford were in the lead with 382 points vs 277 to Cambridge. Onto the reds, the Rustenberg “Peter Barlow”, Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa had many students assuming an Old World origin due to the savoury style of the wine. The Fleurie was one of the more successfully identified wines, despite being more structured that one usually expects with Gamay.

It was Cambridge who proved to be the stronger team on the reds, triumphing over Oxford by 381 points to 367. However, the significant lead that Oxford had clinched on the whites meant that Oxford emerged victorious, for the 4th consecutive year, with a total of 744 points. Particular congratulations go to their team member, Jit Ang, who was top taster with a remarkable score of 143, and was rewarded with a Magnum of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2004, and will enjoy a trip to Maison Pol Roger with the rest of the Oxford team later in the year.

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